Tag Archives: pH Balance

Getting To Know Your Hair–Understanding Porosity


Porosity is the ability of the hair to absorb water and other matter (like chemicals).

In the post ‘Balancing Moisture & Protein’, i gave a brief summery of what hair is. The outer layer of the hair, the Cuticle, is made up of several layers of interlocking scales and is responsible for how porous the hair is.

Different Degrees of Porosity

Low Porosity

Low or poor porosity is characterised by very tightly closed cuticles and is generally considered healthy as all or most of the cuticle layer is intact. It doesn’t easily absorb water and resists the penetration of chemical treatments.

Average/Normal Porosity

Normal Porosity is hair that is able to absorb water well but resists permitting too much water to penetrate. This is considered the best porosity to have. Again, all or most of the cuticle layer is in tact and lies down flatly. Hair with normal porosity can hold styles well and receives chemical processing well. Although chemical processes can change the porosity of the hair from average to high.

High Porosity

Highly porous hair is hair that has sustained cuticle damage with lifted, missing, cracked or chipped cuticles. It absorbs significantly higher amounts of water then normal or low porosity hair (up to 55%, in contrast with 31.1% for healthy hair) and is not capable of holding onto that water as the damaged cuticles allow water out just as fast. This type of hair never feels properly moisturised even with constant moisturising. When hair is fully soaked in water, the weight of the excessively absorbed water can lead to significant breakage due to loss of elasticity. Highly porous hair easily accepts chemical treatments such as dyes, but wont hold onto the colour for very long and is easily over processed as it takes significantly less time than low or average porosity types to receive the chemicals. Highly porous hair doesn’t hold onto styles as well as normal or low porosity types.

Uneven Porosity

Uneven porosity is a combination of low or average porosity and high porosity and is common in long hair. The longer your hair is, the older it is and the more it has been exposed to mechanical, chemical, environmental and heat damage. Uneven porosity has spotty issues where some parts of your hair hold onto moisture well and some parts (such as the ends) do not.

What Causes Highly Porous Hair? 

Genetics does have a part to play with how porous the hair is. Naturally curly hair is more porous than straight hair by nature. Every kink and bend along the shaft where the hair naturally curls or kinks stops the cuticles from lying down flatly and so the cuticles remain slightly raised along these points. The curlier or kinkier your hair is the more porous it is. Other determining factors are mechanical damage caused by rough handling, dry combing/brushing, friction caused by towel drying, scarfs, hair bands and hats, chemicals such as permanent dyes, relaxers, texturisers and perms, heat damage from tools such as blow-dryers, flat irons and curling tongs as well as over exposure to environmental factors such as UV rays and harsh winds. Strong sulfate shampoos, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, are capable of dissolving the fatty acid layer beneath the cuticle (called the Cell Membrane Complex or CMC, the ‘cement’ that keeps the cuticles in place), which can lead to irreparable gaps in the cuticle layer. Natural soaps, being very alkaline in nature, causes the hair to swell and the cuticle to lift up away from the surface of the hair shaft, penetrating through the cuticle and into the CMC where it can bind with the fatty acid layer and rinse it away, again causing gaps within the cuticles. All these different factors can permanently alter, raise and/or damage the cuticle layer causing highly porous hair.

Porosity Tests

It is best test for porosity on freshly cleaned and dried hair.

Test OneThe Finger Touch Test

Gently hold a few strands of hair with one hand. With the other, run your fingers up the length of your hair, from tip to root. If your hair feels rough with lots of little ridges or bumps (excluding the bumps that are naturally created by the bends in the shaft where the hair curls) then your cuticles are not lying flatly and your hair is porous.

There are some who argue that the first test is not at all effective at determining porosity as the cuticle layers are so microscopically tiny that you can’t possibly feel whether they are raised or not unless the hair has sustained significant damage.

Test Two – The Water Test

Take some shed hair (or pull out a strand of freshly washed and dried hair), a stop watch and a tall glass of water. Drop the hair into the glass and wait for one minute. After the minute has passed check to see whether your hair is floating or has sunk. If your hair is floating ON TOP of the water, than you have low/poor porosity. If your hair is floating JUST UNDER the water, your hair has average porosity. If your hair has SUNK to the bottom of the cup then your hair is highly porous. If part of your hair is FLOATING and part of it is SINKING, you have spotty porosity issues.

Healthy hair should not sink at all or only sink slightly (in one minute that is). The rate that the hair sinks is an indication of how quickly it absorbs (and will lose) moisture. The faster the moisture is absorbed into the hair, the more porous it is. Hair should naturally absorb moisture at a slow pace and should be capable of holding it for long periods of time. If hair absorbs enough moisture within one minute to cause it to sink in water, it is absorbing too fast and indicates high porosity.

Correcting Porosity Issues

After you have determined whether your hair has low, average or high porosity you may be wandering how to correct any issues. Here are some suggestions

Low/Poor Porosity

If you find your hair does not absorb water well than you need to focus on moisture rich products more than protein. Deep conditioning WITH HEAT (a hooded dryer) is highly recommended. The heat will cause the cuticles to open and will allow the much needed moisture to enter into the cortex.

High Porosity

Highly porous hair can be treated in two ways depending on the type of damage caused to the cuticle.

Lifted Cuticles – PH

If your hair is highly porous and you don’t necessarily use chemicals or heat and are generally quite gentle with your strands then it is possible that the cuticles are raised. Rebalancing your hair’s pH may be all that is required to help return your porosity level to normal. Acidic rinses such as Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) rinses are an effective way of bringing the pH of your hair back down to optimal levels, thus closing your cuticles and correcting high porosity. For more on pH and hair click HERE.

Damaged Cuticles – Protein

If your hair is highly porous and you regularly use heat and/or chemicals, brush or comb your hair very roughly and/or without slippery products such as conditioner or you have tried correcting your porosity with pH and it hasn’t really helped, then you have sustained cuticle damage. You may have missing, cracked or chipped cuticles. You cannot permanently repair damaged hair but you can patch it up temporarily with protein treatments. Protein helps to reinforce the hairs structure and can help fill in the gaps where the cuticles are chipped or missing. This creates a complete layer over your cortex that can resist moisture loss, keeping the hair moisturised for longer and will help to correct high porosity. Again heat can and should be used to help create stronger bonds between the protein and your hair so that the protein is not simply washed down the drain but actually remains on your hair after rinsing.

Uneven Porosity

Uneven porosity can be corrected by either or both of the suggestion listed above. Using pH and protein will help fill in or flatten the cuticles in those places that are causing the spotty porosity problems. Product layering can also be very effective where the porosity issues are uneven, such as at the ends. If you have dry ends, then layering more moisture and oil/butter on the ends will help to create a thicker barrier where your hair is most susceptible to moisture loss and will help your hair retain moisture evenly.

The Best Treatment of All

I’m sure you know what i’m about to say. Prevention is better then cure! Reducing those things can cause the hair to sustain damage is the best ‘treatment’ we could possibly administer.

  • Treat your hair gently.
  • Detangle only when your hair is loaded with conditioner to reduce damage caused by friction
  • Avoid chemical treatments as much as possible
  • Avoid the overuse of heat styling tools
  • Avoid harsh sulfate shampoos and alkaline soaps

This brings us to the end of the ‘Getting To Know Your Hair Series’. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the different things that can affect the hair and what it takes to keep it healthy. Knowledge is the best tool in any successful hair journey!

If you have any comments, suggestions or questions regarding anything we’ve discussed in this series, feel free to leave them in the comment boxes or email me at


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Getting To Know Your Hair–pH & Hair

So far, we’ve discussed what healthy hair is and what three things are key in maintaining healthy hair – moisture, protein and pH. I’ve talked about the first two, moisture and protein and how to maintain the correct moisture/protein balance with regular wet testing. Today i’m continuing the ‘Getting To Know Your Hair’ series with a brief outline of what pH is and how it affects the health of our hair.

What is pH?

pH stands for ‘potential of hydrogen’ or ‘hydrogen strength’ and refers to the acidity or alkalinity of an aqueous (water based) solution relative to the concentration of hydrogen ions present. The level of pH is measured on a logarithmic scale of 0 – 14 with 0 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. In the middle we have pH 7 which is considered neutral as it has an equal balance of acidity and alkalinity. Water has a pH of 7 (hard water can measure pH 8!). pH 0 – 6.9 are acidic in nature and pH 7.1 – 14 are alkaline (base or caustic).

pH on a logarithmic scale is measured in multiples of 10 so every number on the scale is 10x more alkaline or acidic than the previous number. Example: pH 6 is 10x more acidic than pH 7, pH 5 is 10x more acidic than pH 6 and 100x (10×10) more acidic than pH 7. pH 8 is 10x more alkaline than pH 7 and pH 9 is 10x more alkaline than pH 8 and 100x (10×10) more alkaline than pH 7. It’s a little confusing i know, but it does help to know this (honestly).

What pH is Our Hair?

Our hair and skins pH measures between 4.0 – 5.5 so our hair is acidic in nature. In order to maintain optimal hair health we should try and keep our hair within this range.

How pH Affects Our Hair

pH greatly affects the way in which our hair looks, feels and behaves.


How Acidity Affects Our Hair

In it’s optimal pH range of 4.0 to 5.5 the cuticles of our hair lie flat against one another contributing to a smooth look and feel and allows light to bounce off well, giving our hair lovely shine or sheen. Closed cuticles protect the shaft from external damage and allows the strands to move around each other without causing damage. If we decrease the pH of our hair further, then the cuticles continue to tighten and tighten. Solutions or products with a pH lower than 3 will begin to corrode or eat away at the hair & scalp causing damage.

How Alkalinity Affects Our Hair

If we raise the pH of our hair above 5.5 the shaft begins to swell and the cuticles will begin to lift or open. Raised cuticles will allow more moisture into our hair but will also allow more moisture out. Lifted cuticles expose the hairs cortex and provides limited protection. Hair in this state is considered weak and susceptible to further damage. Lifted cuticles cause the hair to look dull and rough and each strand can tangle on the next causing more damage to the cuticle layer. The higher the pH the more our hair swells and our cuticles lift incurring more and more damage. Solutions or products with a pH of 10 or more will begin to dissolve the hair and scalp causing damage. Permanent hair dyes and relaxers are extremely alkaline (pH values between 10 and 13) and work by lifting the cuticles so the chemicals can deposit onto and alter the cortex/main structure of the hair.  Highly alkaline solutions weaken the disulfide bonds in the hair and can alter it’s structure permanently. 

Maintaining Healthy Hair With pH

Our goal here is to maintain the hairs optimal pH range of between 4.0 and 5.5 and thus keep it nice and healthy. All products containing water have a pH value and it’s important that our water based products such as shampoos, conditioners, leave-ins and moisturisers be within this range. Remember, water is 100 – 1000 times more alkaline than our hair so even a quick warm water rinse will cause the cuticles to lift slightly. If we dry our hair and apply oil or butter straight onto our hair after rinsing with warm water, the cuticles will remain open causing a slight feel of roughness and less sheen or shine. We should always try to restore or rebalance our hairs pH. It’s important, then, to use a water based, pH balanced (acidic) leave-in or moisturiser after washing our hair to bring the pH back down and close the cuticles before sealing with an oil or butter. A final rinse of diluted ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) also serves this purpose. Aloe Vera is also a great ingredient choice for hair moisturisers and spritzes as its pH value is around 4. This way we ensure our cuticles are closed, that moisture is retained well and our hair is stronger and less susceptible to damage.

The last post in this series will be on porosity and how it affects our hair, including how to correct any porosity issues.

Until next time!


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TKC: (ACV) Apple Cider Vinegar, Hibiscus & Honey Rinse Preserve

By Kelly

I don’t know about you, but I love my ACV rinse.  It leaves my hair feeling so soft and, well, the texture it should be.  The thing about ACV rinsing is that it takes care of what most commercial hair products don’t.

Nadia makes good points about ACV in her blog, but I will re-iterate for the cause…


What does pH mean to hair?

pH stands for potential hydrogen, or the acidity or alkalinity of a product. 7 is the neutral spot for pH but anything between 6.5 to 7.5 is considered to be a neutral range. Anything above 7 is alkaline and anything below 7 is acid.

Hair is on the mildly acidic side of the pH scale and has an ideal pH of 4.0 to 5.5, which is close to that of an apple cider vinegar rinse (pH 2.9.)

The surface of a strand of hair is covered with overlapping sheets, somewhat like the scales on a fish, or the shingles on a house. This surface is called the cuticle.


Alkaline solutions raise these scales, so they stand up. This makes the hair rougher, makes it look dull, and makes the hair shafts stick together due to the rough texture.  Many of the hair care products we use, such as soap-based shampoos, bleaches, hair colours, and permanents are strongly alkaline.

The shampoos that are made slightly acidic, keep the cuticle smooth and lying flat on the hair shaft. Ingredients like citric acid are added to acidify the shampoo.  However, to make a shampoo pH balanced manufacturers often put chemical acid called triethanolamine (TEA), which may be contaminated with nitrosamines that have been known to cause cancer.

Also, as shampoo mixes with the water in the shower or bath, or mixes with dirt on the hair, it can become less acidic as the acids mix with alkaline water or dirt. A compound (usually sodium citrate) that releases more acidifying ions when the acidity gets low, or absorbs acid when the acidity gets too high, is called a buffer.

The question is, how many acidifying ions in the shampoo will remain to release acidifying ions after applying and rinsing off conditioners and other treatments if the shampoo was only slightly acidic to being with?  Is shampooing with a slightly acidic shampoo enough for your hair?


How does ACV Help?

For the pH level of the hair to remain at or near 4.0, it’s best for it to be the last or near the last process to avoid dilution. For this reason, I use my ACV rinse AFTER all my shampoo and conditioning treatments.  Otherwise, adding ACV to your Leave-in conditioner, Deep Conditioner or Spritz is recommended.  Whatever you choose, you now know that the pH balance is an essential part of keeping your hair in good health

Rinsing with Apple Cider Vinegar will bring the pH level of your hair to approx. 4.0 which is just what the hair needs. Rinsing will close the numerous cuticle scales which cover and protect the surface of each hair shaft. This imparts a smoother surface which reflects more light and as a result leaves your hair shinier, smoother and easier to manage.



The ACV mix is made as a concentrate and stored in the fridge.  The honey contained serves as so it’s ok to keep for about 1 month. 




500ml Water

500ml Apple Cider Vinegar – contains more than 30 nutrients. From pectin to minerals like potassium, magnesium and calcium, apple cider vinegar is a rich natural source of vitamins. Its antiseptic properties arrests growth of harmful germs that cause myriad infections

5 Tbsp. Hibiscus (Sorrel to the West Indians) – Prevents hair loss, Enhances growth of hair, Discourages split ends, Thickens hair, Prevents premature greying of hair, Prevent dandruff, Gives a soapy quality to Shikakai.

3 Tbsp. Honey  – Serves as preservative which would enable the mixture to keep for about a month in the fridge.  It is also a humectant which naturally attracts and promotes retention of moisture.



1. Bring water to the boil and add Hibiscus.  Simmer for 20 mins.  Allow to cool.

2. Sieve out Hibiscus and add ACV and honey.

3. Pour into an airtight container and keep in fridge



When needed, pour out only 200ml and dilute with water up to 1 litre.


It takes the hassle out of my treatments.

As mentioned before, I prefer to pour over my hair when I have finished my other treatments and processes.  I pour over my hair, leave for 5 mins and rinse off.

I would then use my leave-in, seal and protective style as usual.


Did you try it?  Let me know how you get on…can’t wait..


Posted by on March 25, 2011 in Hair Care


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The Kitchen Cupboard by Kelly

Skincare:  Natural Works?

We can spend a huge amount time, effort and money trying to find the right set of products to address each and every skin care issue we have. We spend that much time and effort as no one product deals with every issue, so we need to spend our money on three or four products at a time.  Taking more time than you actually have in the store aisle reviewing and reading ingredients ‘..with peppermint oil..’ ‘..for sensitive skin..’ ‘…deep cleansing..’ How could you not buy a product with such gorgeous labels?  “This new one must work, the label looks too good!”  You walk to the checkout with one thing in mind..”I hope this one works”

The labels lead us to believe that the bottle of ‘moisturising cleanser with added avocado oil’ will be the next miracle worker, and it must work because the label looks expensive, like something that’s sold in a high end spa.  The price also leads you to think that they must have put really good ingredients into it this time.  But when you look at the ingredient list on most commercial skin care products, they present the same things till about 3/4 of the way down and then you will see that the magic ingredient, that has been promoted so beautifully and expertly on the front, makes up about 0.5% of the total product.

So what did you pay for?  Labelling?  Marketing?  0.5% of Avocado Oil?

Let’s look at one of the main ingredients used in skin care products:

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Both are commonly used in many soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes and other products that we expect to “foam up”. Both chemicals are very effective foaming agents, chemically known as surfactants.

Unfortunately, both SLES and SLS are so very dangerous, highly irritating chemicals. Far from giving “healthy shining hair” and “beautiful skin”, soaps and shampoos containing SLES can lead to direct damage to the hair follicle, skin damage, permanent eye damage in children and even liver toxicity.

Although SLES is somewhat less irritating than SLS, it cannot be metabolised by the liver and its effects are therefore much longer-lasting. This not only means it stays in the body tissues for longer, but much more precious energy is used getting rid of it.

So if one of the first ingredients can do so much harm, and has been printed and included so blatantly in our products, how much care do we think has been given to the remaining products or even the two or three to follow? not including the 0.5% Avocado Oil.

So, what price are you prepared to pay to a) cleanse your skin? b) nourish your skin?  c) tone your skin? d) firm up your skin e) prevent and remove spots/ acne?

NATURALLY – No Small Print

Sure enough, the solution comes with four simple ingredients that do not come with side effects, high cost and ingredient lists as long as your arm.  Tried and tested, for me, they are nothing short of a miracle.

No hype, no talk-up, no marketing, just the facts.

Put them to the test and let me know how you get on.



  • Lemon is antiseptic. Bacteria grows on the skin, hence the need to cleanse thoroughly.  The body’s immune system suppresses the growth of bacteria, but when our immune system gets low, the skins pH will become unbalanced and the bacteria will grow.  This is why we end up with really ashy-type skin.  For this reason, we would need to help out the body’s immune system to neutralise the bacteria growing on the skin surface. (Have you noticed that your skin tends to be more ashy in the Autumn/ Winter months?  The same time that you’re likely to be feeling more run down or get a cold.  Your immune system is trying to tell you something.)
  • Lemon contains fatty acids that nourish the skin.
  • Lemon contains a tremendous amount of melanin which is the substance that gives skin and hair it’s colour.
  • Lemon contains astringent properties

Action: Will cleanse, nourish and restore complexion.

Directions for Use: Rub lemon on the skin.  You can use the peel and actually massage with much more force.  The key is to rub into the skin as much as possible.  It may take a few weeks to notice the benefits.  Remember, it take time to undo what has been done.

If you’re drinking the lemon first thing in mornings as Nadia’s previous posts suggest, you now have a use for the remaining lemon!




  • Blackstrap Molasses contains vitamins and minerals that are healing agents.  The nutrients contained will give the skin cells something to feed on and tone the skin
  • Blackstrap Molasses will work with wrinkles that are developing and will firm a sagging jaw.
  • Blackstrap Molasses will remove pimples and acne.
  • Blackstrap Molasses will cleanse the skin.

Action: Will cleanse, nourish, tone, address acne and restore complexion.

Directions for Use: Apply molasses on skin every day for two weeks and leave on all night.  Work the molasses into the face as you do this, it will lose it’s stickiness.  Keep working it in.  Make sure to cover the whole face. Keep on overnight.  In the morning, the best way to remove it is with olive oil on a piece of cloth.  Splash on some cool water and pat dry your face.  The cold water will tighten up the skin.

NOTE: Honey can be used in place of Blackstrap Molasses.




  • Bentonite Clay is a powerful clay and is one of the strongest clays.
  • Bentonite Clay works similarly to charcoal in that it can absorb many times it’s own weight, thus making it able to draw out impurities from the body.
  • We have a similar chemical composition to the clay found in the earth.  The only difference is that it is an inorganic form and we are made up of organic matter.  The body can still  convert the inorganic matter to organic so it will absorb the minerals in the clay and that will serve to replenish or revive the skin.
  • Bentonite Clay has a tremendous therapeutic effect and can bring back the pH balance.  It will remove a lot of the Uric Acid and Purine Acid out of the system.  We have learned previously, restoring the pH balance to skin will remove the ashy-type complexion.
  • Bentonite Clay is able to accelerate cellular growth, helping cells to perform more effectively and healthfully.
  • Bentonite clay will tighten up the skin, encourage the removal of wrinkles and sagging skin.

Action: Will replenish, tighten, restore and purify skin.

Direction for Use: Mix 1 cup of clay and enough Olive Oil to be creamy.  The olive oil makes it softer and smoother when applying to the skin.  Stir the mixture well.  You can leave it on for 15-20 minutes or let it dry.  It will tighten up the skin.




  • Witch Hazel is an astringent as lemon is. An astringent is a substance that causes contraction of tissues on application.
  • Simply, it is an agent that tightens everything up, firms and brings everything back to proper balance.

Action: Will firm the skin.

Direction for Use: Apply to the face with cotton wool and let dry.

NOTE: Distilled Witch Hazel is recommended.


As I mentioned before, I know it works.  I want you to try it and tell me about your results.  I can’t wait!…


Posted by on March 7, 2011 in Kelly


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Interesting pH Results

I just thought I’d show you these pH results that i found so interesting.

Whilst making the tea for my Leave-in conditioner i decided to test the pH of it. I used bottled water to make the tea as my filter is not working so well at the moment.

pH of Bottled Water the pH of this water was a 7

pH of Tea The pH of the tea measured a 4.5!


How is that possible? It’s the same water. Obviously the herbs have changed the pH to a more acidic range. Or was it the metal pot i used to boil it in? Not sure, but it’s very interesting nonetheless and that is probably why my leave-in conditioner showed a consistently low pH range, even without the citric acid.


Just thought i’d share that with you.


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Posted by on June 23, 2010 in Hair Care, pH Balance